Flying while trans: still unbelievably horrible

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FWIW I’m a trans woman who gets zero hassle when flying. Mostly out of Seattle where I live, and down to various points in California, also to New Orleans. Never got any hassle when I lived in Boston, either. I’ve never flown in or out of Milwaukee; sounds like the TSA there needs some remedial classes in Dealing With Complicated Gender.

Maybe I just have tons of passing privilege and a really high charisma. Or maybe my junk is just really tiny and never shows up as an “anomaly” on the scanners, I dunno.


At least the restrooms on most planes I’ve been on are unisex so things might get slightly easier for some trans people after boarding.

If that sounds sarcastic or flippant it’s not meant to be. A trans friend of mine has often asked me to stand guard at public restrooms. I was always happy to do it even before idiotic “bathroom bills” started flooding state legislatures. Not to mention the unbelievably awful comments of a state legislator regarding store changing rooms.

I have no idea what daily life for my friend or for any trans person must be like but at least stories like this make me think about how difficult it must be.


I don’t understand. Has ISIS developed an explosive device designed to look like non-cisgender-conforming genitalia in an x-ray?


For what it’s worth, based on other TSA stories I’ve seen, including the one this week about a 2 minute patdown of a child, I’m not sure it’s really any worse for us trans folk. The TSA seems pretty equally horrible to everyone.


I got pulled flying out of Seattle as a transguy wearing a binder. It’s before I got my work related ID. TSA dude was nice, but clearly freaked out by an obvious transgender person. I got pulled for it. On my way back, through the Atlanta airport, I had the ID with pre-check and that cut down on my being pulled. Not completely though. It’s still a dice roll on if I get pulled for extra speculation.

It’s one of the reasons I’m getting top surgery next month. I fly too much, and I’m tired of having to account for possible TSA discovers I’m transgender time.


I’m not an expert on hardline islamic jurisprudence; but pornographic munitions sound pretty haram to me.


From the OP: “. . . [T]he TSA agent pushes a pink-for-girls or blue-for-boys binary gender button when a passenger enters the body scanner.

This seems like an arbitrary category for security purposes. Are all scanners shipped with this feature? It seems like bias unrelated to security is coded into the machine or its OS — like a case discussed in Lessig’s Code 2.0.

Well, you have to consider all of the trans terrorist attacks in our recent past …


I’m guessing it is so the display knows what type of cartoon character to display. But that is a crap excuse as a sexually ambiguous character would be just fine for spotting a hidden weapon.


I’d be curious to know whether that feature is connected to the “Oh, don’t worry, pornoscanner feeds are only leered at by same-sex TSA agents…” process, or whether the system is sufficiently poor at distinguishing between assorted explosives/camoflagued containers and human tissue that whatever heuristics identify ‘anomalies’ need a big hint, or both.

The former seems like a likely use; the latter wouldn’t surprise me, given the general reports of lousiness that have dogged the system; but if it is that bad, I would be a trifle surprised that a gender-binary-button would be enough of a hint. Even someone who thinks that ‘transsexuals’ are a fiction found only in gayCLU indoctrination manuals has definitely noticed by now that it isn’t exactly uncommon for a moderately overweight man to allocate more fat to his breasts(though not actual mammary tissue except in the rarer event of actual gynecomastia) than many slimmer women do; easily enough of a margin to contain a useful volume of explosives.


Speaking as a cis-gendered middle class white dude, I’d just like to take this opportunity to trivialize the challenges everyone else faces just trying to exist every single godforsaken day. ffs


Actually my first thought was with what egypturnash said, the button is so that the machine knows where to expect anomalies, on the chest for women, in the crotch for men. I guess having data for fat guys would help prove or disprove that.

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Don’t be that guy. It’s not a zero-sum game of “who’s got it worse”.


That’s a great question. It sounds like the sort of goofy promotion the vendor sales team might use to market the device in conservative jurisdictions.

Logs could be reviewed to compare use of the equipment with the gender of the monitoring agent.

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My post last night was sarcastitruth, if I can artlessly make up a word on the fly. It’s easy to be me in modern American society. When I read a post like this, my initial response is that it’s ridiculous how complicated and nuanced the formerly simple binary of gender has become. But if I think about what it really means for people with a genders like these trying to live life as themselves, it’s overwhelming.

Humans with genders like those described in the article aren’t forcing a socio-political agenda. I think it’s tempting for cis-gendered folks like me to believe that they are, and to be dismissive and rude (or worse). For humans with these genders, it can be a struggle just to be who they are. When I try to imagine a life where my identity at a very basic level forces me into struggle after struggle…I don’t know. They must be very strong people.


The sarcasm tag is you friend :wink:

(also, right on!)

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It’s always my chest that trips the machine. Apparently double D’s smashed flat in a binder look suspicious.

The TSA treats EVERYONE as a freakish security threat.


Probably a density thing. I’m not an expert on it, but maybe a looser binding on days when you’re going to fly or something? Obviously the real solution is to not have the bullshit to begin with, but that might keep you from getting groped as often since the machine yelling at you is a guarantee for that.

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